By Ashley Laderer

I’m a huge advocate for travel as a means to improve mental health and wellness since recently experiencing the benefits myself — but I also know that not everyone has the ability to take a week off of work and hop on a plane. Have no fear, because you can still reap the benefits of a vacation without getting on a plane, traveling outside of your state, or breaking the bank. Here are seven ways to take a local mental health vacation!

Unplug your devices

If you were on a beach in Mexico would you be refreshing your Instagram feed every two minutes? Probably not. So put your phone down, and if you lack self-control (like I do) leave it in another room. Better yet, put it on airplane mode and turn off Wi-Fi so no messages or calls will come in. Goodbye, world!

Instead of staring at your screen and waiting for the next message to come in, take in your surroundings, no matter where you are. As for emails, you can set an out of office email letting people know you will get back to them on your return date. That spreadsheet your co-worker wants from you can wait. On that note…

Lighten your workload beforehand

Try to get as much done as possible before you head out on “vacation,” so you won’t have to spend your free time dreading playing catch-up when you return to work. Stay organized and motivated with a to-do list, outlining your tasks a week before you leave so you have plenty of time to complete them. Procrastinating never helped anybody!

It can also help to prioritize the items on the list and number them by importance. It’s definitely worth it to work a bit harder and longer before your time off so you don’t have to think about it as much during your break. Plus, you won’t be as swamped once you’re back in the office.

Explore somewhere new

You don’t have to go far to see someplace new. If you’re anything like me, there are loads of places you’ve never explored right in your hometown — or the next town over. Ask friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. Chances are, they’ve been to at least a few spots that you haven’t even heard of! Just because a new spot isn’t in a faraway land doesn’t have to make it less exciting.

You can go to a park that you walk by on your commute, a museum that you’ve written off, or the beach that’s a half hour away you’re always too busy to drive to. You just may find a new favorite spot, and you’ll be overcome with appreciation of the beauty you see.

Treat Yourself

When you’re on vacation, you’re more likely to spoil yourself. It could be something as simple as sleeping in an extra hour or making reservations at a nice restaurant. Order a nice dessert, because on vacation (or staycation) your diet doesn’t have to control you. You can also indulge in a massage or facial.

Even in your own home you can take a bath with extra bubbles or a bath bomb. Take time to really notice the sensations that you’re feeling. Appreciate the warmth and the relaxation! If you’re feeling extra fancy, take a glass of wine into the bath with you and throw some rose petals in there. Self-care, am I right?

Get out of your comfort zone

Travel often forces us to get out of our comfort zone by putting us in a place we’re not familiar with — so why not try something totally new! You can try to learn a new language even though it may not be immediately “necessary.” There are plenty of apps like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone to help you with this. Yes, I know I told you to unplug earlier, but these are brain-boosting reasons to look at your phone, so you can let it slide.

You can also go to a restaurant that has a type of food you’ve never tried. Order something on the menu that’s completely out of the ordinary and new to you. If you’re usually a shy introvert, strike up a conversation with a stranger at the coffee shop. You may surprise yourself and make a new friend.

Indulge in your hobbies

Take this time to do some of your favorite things, or to try out new hobbies that you’ve always wanted to try. Groupon is a great resource to find some fun things to do on a budget. Always wanted to try skydiving? Find an indoor skydiving stimulator. Are you a fan of yoga? Why not try aerial yoga for a different experience?

If you love art but haven’t touched a paintbrush since high school art class, attend a drink and draw class at a studio near you. You can also browse to connect with people with similar interests, or find events based around a hobby or interest… even organize your own!

Take a deep dive into culture

A big part of travel is diving into a different culture, right? Take the opportunity to explore the culture that’s all around you, no matter where you are. Check out museums in your area, go see a musical at a community theatre, or listen to live music at a bar. Even though you’re not in a foreign land, look around and you may be surprised at the rich local culture you can find..

Reset your mind with a mental health vacation

While society can make you feel like taking time off of work makes you a slacker, there’s way more evidence that “vacation” and time off is good for you. So whether you’re hitting Bora Bora or your bedroom, a break will be good for you. You deserve it, I promise. And after that mental health vacation, you’ll be performing better than ever when you’re back at work!

Originally published at